Tracking my progress in Texas Hold'em
Bankroll: $2666.71
Published on April 28, 2006 By PacDragon In Gaming
More progress. I made $100 last night, brining me even closer to my goal. I don't think earning the entire $1,000 is going to be likely. But getting at least $500 for the week should definitely be possible. I already went ahead and transferred my online cash around, putting $1k in Full Contact Poker. Then I officially signed up for the tournament.

There were already over 200 people signed up. I'm hoping that they're mostly people who came in via qualifiers. Since the qualifiers were mostly winner-take-all tournaments, the dominant strategy would be to play hyper aggressive and take a lot of risks. The strategy for this big game will be to avoid unnecessary risks until the rising blinds force you to switch gears. If I'm lucky, most of the players won't be adjusting their game.

It's actually going to be pretty tough until I get a good read on my opponents. You want to avoid big risks, but on the other hand that's what the other good players will be doing. In that case, you'd then want to be aggressive and force them to fold pots to you.

So I think I'm just going to stick to my favorite strategy at the beginning. I'll play very few hands, sticking mostly to good cards. But whenever I'm in a hand, I'll stay aggressive no matter what I get. I'll have to do a lot of bobbing & weaving, staying away from anyone who seems to actually like their hand. I'll also try not to tangle with anyone who has more chips than me, not unless I'm confident enough that going all-in will double me up.

Later in the tournament, once the blinds get large compared to my stack, I'll switch to a faster gear. I'll start trying to steal the blinds more often, make some ballsy plays if I sense weakness, and pretty much try to punish any player that's still playing too tight. At least that's the plan. But depending on how close I am to the prize structure, I might just buckle down and try to get into the money. Even just doubling my entry fee would be huge.

So yeah, that's the plan. Hopefully there won't be too many more signups. With $1M guaranteed, any less than 1,000 players is a good deal. But more than 400 will make it very tough to win.

on Apr 28, 2006
GL! Keep us posted.
on Apr 28, 2006
I'm actually opposed to playing tight at the low blind levels. It's a problem people especially have in bigger live tournaments where they seem to focus on lasting rather than winning. You don't want to switch gears when the blinds force you to, because that puts you at the same disadvantage as everyone else.

I would rather play much looser early on when I can afford to see more speculative hands and build a larger stack early. This allows you to steal blinds significantly better at the higher blind levels, as you can afford to lay down reraises against you.

The additional problem is that you're not likely to get strong reads on your opponents, in an online tourney, even an expensive one such as this, tables will be switching around too much. You'll have trouble building an image for yourself (assuming the other's at the table even can pick up on an image) and you'll be given little time to be fully confident on your reads.

A lot of talk in tournament strategy is about switching gears, and it is important, but becomes less so in online MTTs where the shifting is so great. Remember, if you switch tables, all that time you took building a tight image no longer applies - and likewise for building a loose image (which is my preferred method).

Edit - I should add, because you're not playing with a proper bankroll to be in this tournament, I agree that you're going to want to avoid big risks for all or most of your chips. Avoid calling all in on coinflips if it puts you all in (or if you're relatively equal in chips). Moving all in against someone can be all right on the coinflip because the fold equity can edge you up from being 47% to win, to something much higher if the player is capable of making a lay down with AQ/AK and mid and low pockets. If you're well stacked compared to the all in bet, it's probably worth calling on potential coinflips (like AK), but don't put your tournament life on the line on that kind of situation until you're all in. You might as well be playing roulette if you do (because all in with AK against a lower pocket pair puts you are around 47% - which is roughly the odds you have on making an even money bet in roulette). That is probably my biggest leak in my game, I overplay coinflip situations (although to be fair, most of the time it's me pushing against them).
on Apr 28, 2006
Damn, now this is some poker discussion.

Can't wait to see Pac's reply.
on Apr 28, 2006
Thanks James. That's actually an ongoing arguement I have with my wife all the time. She's a big believer in seeing a lot of flops when it's cheap. She'll want to limp in with just about anything, hoping to catch that one monster flop that'll double her up.

Because I like to be so aggressive with any hand I'm in, playing like that sometimes ends up hurting me in the long run. I'll push hard with bottom or middle pair, get called or raised, and get into trouble later in the hand. I see Sammy Farha play that style to perfection, but when I try it I get played back at all the time. At least with a good starting hand, if I get played back at holding bottom pair, I'll usually have a good draw to fall back on. It's one of my problem areas (probably because I play so much limit).

But I will definitely use those early rounds to play more speculative hands than I normally would. Things like small pocket pairs, A-rag suited, suited connectors, one or two gapped suited connectors, etc. I usually don't like those hands when either my opponents or I have smallish stacks, but I'll certainly play them when it's cheap. I'll also be a bit more liberal about raising to find out the strength of my hand. That's tough to do short stacked, since I don't want to commit myself. But I think I'll be able to get away with three-times-their-bet raises when I've got a nice stack behind me.

Yeah, you're spot on that I'm playing waaay beyond my bankroll for this tournament. That's why I'm probably going to be playing a lot more carefully than I should be if I really wanted to win. I'll likely be passing up coin-flips until I feel the strong need to take a stand. I'm going to try to only get my chips in as a huge favorite. Since I'm playing so far beyond my bankroll, I'll probably stick to a style that just gets me into the money. But if it looks like I'll be getting blinded out before then, I'll definitely start looking for opportunities to get lucky.
on Apr 28, 2006
I'd say ultimately I generally play in a spot between your style and your wife. I'll rarely limp in (especially when the blinds are cheap and a 3xbb raise isn't too expensive compared to my stack), and I do play hands (overly) aggressively, but I tend to be much more careful with mid and bottom pairs. Of course, part of that would be because I'm usually hitting mid or bottom pairs with my suited connectors so unless I have other draws going for it, it's likely a dead hand.

Anyway, I just wanted to give a little bit of opposite opinion before you went into the thing. The biggest mistake you can make is playing way too risk adverse, which is a big worry (but very hard to avoid) when you're playing for that large of a buyin.

Best of luck, maybe I'll have to fire up FTP and check watch it go down.
on Apr 28, 2006
may the GODS of good cards and the wisdom to play them smile on you.
on Apr 28, 2006
Yeah, I don't like limping in tournaments either. I nearly always like to come in for at least a 3xbb raise, mainly to setup a chance to take the pot down later. I'll only limp in if I have a really weak hand, there are so many limpers already that I have to hit big to win, and it's unlikely that a raise will chase anyone out. Other than that, I'll raise it up. Makes it more difficult for other players to make pre-flop moves, too.

Thanks for the advice, I'm definitely taking it all in. Yeah, the biggest challenge is going to be staying away from risks while still accumulating chips. If I play too scared, I won't get anywhere. I really hope I can find that fine line between playing smart and playing timid.

I keep hearing Joe Hatchem's voice in my head, from an interview he did after winning the main event. He said he'd look at a spot where he had a small edge, but had to commit a lot of chips to see it through. He'd look around the massive poker room and the thousands of players, tell himself he has plenty of time to wait for a better spot, and then would lay the hand down. He only had to survive a handful of coinflips throughout the event.

In a standard cheap tournament, one that normally lasts 2 to 5 hours, that kind of thinking will just get you blinded out. But I think it's a good frame of mind to be in for a multi-day game that's beyond my bankroll. I will be monitoring my play closely, though (with your voice in my head now, too). If I discover it's not working out, I'll be on standby to speed up my game in a heartbeat.

If you're serious about watching the game on FCP, let me know. I don't want to post my screen name on here, but I'll send it privately.
on Apr 28, 2006
Oooohh oops, you're on FCP, for some reason I thought it was Full Tilt, yeah send me an e-mail at my spam account (since I'm posting it on a forum): Email

When is the actual event?

on Apr 29, 2006
He's been in for an hour and looks to be doing well (about double his buy in). A lot to go but a strong start.